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bolognese sauce served over pappardelle in a white bowl
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4.95 from 116 votes

Classic Italian Bolognese Recipe

When it comes to meat sauce, no one does it better than the Italians and Bolognese is the King of Italian Sauces. If you're not a red meat eater you can easily swap out the beef and pork with turkey or chicken to make a sauce that you'll enjoy time and time again.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time4 hours
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 16
Calories: 358kcal



  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion finely chopped (approx 1 cup)
  • 2 large carrots finely chopped (approx 1 cup)
  • 4 stalks celery finely chopped (approx 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped


  • 1 pound ground chuck 20% fat
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage meat loose out of casing
  • 1 tbsp sea salt to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes to taste
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg optional ( I left it out, I don't like nutmeg)
  • 1 cup red wine *You can use a dry white wine if you prefer
  • 84 ounces plum tomatoes 3- 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes(San Marzano variety if possible). *If using whole tomatoes crush them by hand or with an immersion blender.
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley finely chopped
  • ¼ cup basil finely chopped
  • 1 cup milk

Finish Sauce

  • 1 cup Romano cheese grated (parmesan can be used as a substitute)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (Light cream or half and half can be used as a substitute)



  • Use a food processor to finely chop the celery, onion, and carrots
  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Then add onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until the veggies begin to caramelize (about 6 - 8 minutes).
  • Add the chopped garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the cooked vegetables (soffritto) from the pot and save until needed.


  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to the pot. Season with sea salt and black pepper and cook for about 10 minutes until the meat browns. Don't be tempted to continually stir and break up the meat. Allow it to get brown well, caramelizing some of the natural sugars in the meat. When the ground beef is fully cooked break up the meat with a wire whip and remove it from the pan.
    Repeat this process with the sausage meat. Add more olive oil if needed.
    When cooking is complete add the cooked beef back into the pot.
  • Add the red wine to the hot pot. It will deglaze the pan, releasing all the browned bits stuck to the bottom. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a large spoon to help get all the stuck bits loose.
  • Return the reserved soffritto to the pot, mix well and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, milk, basil and parsley, mixing well. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
    *If you want to add the nutmeg this is the time to do it. Traditionally nutmeg is added, but its a flavor I've never enjoyed or included in my Bolognese sauce.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 hours.

Finish Sauce

  • Stir in heavy cream and Romano cheese, mix well to incorporate the cream and cheese into the sauce.
    If the sauce is too thick you can add a little water, red wine or milk to thin it out.
  • Re-season with sea salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.
  • Serve with your favorite wide noodle pasta, I used Pappardelle.



*Use a food processor to finely chop the carrots, onions and celery. This will make your sauce smoother and look less like a stew.
*Use a wire whip to break up the chunks of meat. It's the quickest and easiest way to make the pieces smaller and more palatable.
*Bolognese freezes well and can be kept up to 6 months in your freezer.


Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 803mg | Potassium: 610mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3252IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 2mg